Washington — Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said Sunday that former Vice President Mike Pence “avoided a major constitutional crisis” with his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and echoed Pence’s remarks condemning former President Donald Trump for pushing false claims the 2020 presidential election was rife with voter fraud.
“Vice President Pence exercised moral clarity and judgment that day by doing his constitutional responsibility, authenticating the votes and counting them,” McCaul said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “He avoided a major constitutional crisis that day.”
McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also said he agrees with comments from Pence on Saturday night criticizing Trump for repeatedly pressuring his former vice president to unilaterally overturn the results of the presidential election during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
“There was a dark, dark day, and I think history will judge everyone by what they did that day,” he said.
Pence offered his sharpest criticism of Trump about the events surrounding Jan. 6 during remarks at the annual Gridiron Dinner on Saturday night, during which he said that Trump was “wrong” for his actions following his loss to President Joe Biden. Trump spent the days leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol pushing his vice president to overturn the election results by unilaterally tossing out or delaying the counting of state Electoral College votes.
“I had no right to overturn the election, and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable for his actions,” Pence told the crowd of politicians and journalists at the white-tie dinner.
Pence also pushed back against depictions of Jan. 6 riot from some conservative television personalities — though not by name — who have downplayed the assault and sought to recast it as peaceful.
“It was not, as some would have you believe, tourists visiting the Capitol,” Pence said. “Tourists don’t injure 140 police officers by sightseeing. Tourists don’t break down doors to get to the speaker of the House.”
The former vice president’s comments were in reference to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s broadcast Monday, during which he aired selected surveillance and police footage from the Capitol on Jan. 6 and claimed it was “mostly peaceful chaos” inside the Capitol. Carlson equated the protesters who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “sightseers.”
Carlson received access to roughly 41,000 hours of footage from the Capitol through an agreement with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. CBS News is part of a group of media organizations demanding access to the tranche of videos from the attack.
McCarthy has said he plans to make the footage available to everybody in the future, and McCaul on Sunday said he has received assurances from the speaker that the video will be turned over to all media.
“The American people deserve to see all the footage from that day,” the Texas Republican said. “All the footage is not going to be, you know, tourism at the Capitol. It’s going to show a very dark, tragic day that I witnessed firsthand, that included our Capitol Police being assaulted, 140 of them injured, two pipe bombs, one Capitol Police officer killed, and a protester killed. That’s not a good day.”